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June - Half Month, But Full Schedule

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Ten of eleven regulars started in Seattle's last MLS game. There will be even more variety in the weeks to come.  (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Ten of eleven regulars started in Seattle's last MLS game. There will be even more variety in the weeks to come. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
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Remember the packed May where there were 9 games in 32 days (we included the final game of April)? June is a bit worse. In 19 days with six games the Seattle Sounders June schedule (including a road trip that opens July) is tighter with a game every 3.1 days (leaving out July's early RSL match makes it 5 in 15 days). There's also little pattern to the games. Saturday, Wednesday, Sunday, Tuesday, Saturday, Wednesday. Five of the matches are on the road. Two are in the Eastern Time Zone. One is a must win in the Open Cup. Seattle players will visit three time zones and will spend a full day in the Puget Sound less than one-third of that time.

If one were to only look at sidereal's numerical power rankings the Sounders look pretty good. Those numbers are now included in the monthly look ahead, but only as some of the components. But by Sagarin and PPM measures the future is a lot less bright. Counting only MLS matches Sagarin's predictor number sees Seattle coming out with 6-7 points in those five played. Overall the "easiest" game on the schedule is a Cascadia Cup away match at the Portland Timbers. Using numbers on that one feels bizarre.

Sigi Schmid and team are taking a needed break. The four days off and next week of standard training should get a few more bodies healthy. The addition of two new players to the mix may be very necessary, because with this amount of travel the core group will likely have a few players rotating to and from Seattle. In under 20 days, if the team were to not group any road trip they would put about 20,000 miles are there frequent flier programs. This month's look ahead will try to estimate the number of normal starters that will be used. In this context a starter is someone who has started at least six matches in all competitions on the season. It's actually a long list (16 players), if everyone is healthy.

Montero, Estrada, Alonso, Parke, Evans, Hurtado, Burch, Scott, Rosales, Johnson, Fernandez, Gspurning, Meredith, Ianni, Johansson, Gonzalez.

Team

Location

PPM

locPPM

Last 5

Sagarin

GFper

GAper

Net Duels

Net ShOG

Net Off Pass %

Montreal

Away

0.92

1.60

7

0.18

1.15

1.62

2.42

-0.14

-3.14

Kansas City

Home

2.08

1.67

4

0.24

1.42

0.83

4.60

0.62

6.24

Portland

Away

1.08

1.57

6

0.27

1.00

1.25

-6.66

-1.35

-1.29

San Jose (Open Cup)

Away

1.93

2.00

5

-0.70

1.93

1.21

-1.37

1.91

1.03

New England

Away

1.23

2.17

7

-0.15

1.38

1.38

0.96

1.11

-2.21

Real Salt Lake

Away

2.07

2.57

13

-0.49

0.60

0.66

3.41

Total PPM

Home PPM

Away PPM

Seattle Sounders FC

1.85

1.88

1.80

5

1.23

0.69

2.71

1.49

7.32

First up is a trip to Montreal and the first MLS match between the old USL rivals. Saputo Stadium knows the Sounders, but the Sounders don't really know the new Saputo. The new grass surface is being laid out this week and the hope is that its transfer from growing site to stadium will take root for the opener of a new SSS in MLS. The Montreal Impact are a decent home team, but the fundamentals are in Seattle's favor. With it being the first game of the stretch you should see players with more starts in 2012 than any other match in this segment.
Normal Starters: 11

The only June MLS home game sees one of the best teams in the league visit. Meeting up with Sporting Kansas City's aggressive 4-3-3 is better at home and at a time when the team won't be too tired. Passing in the back will be at a premium as the Sporks pressure a ton. It is also a match where the stats make a tie seem fairly likely.
Normal Starters: 10

Cascadia Cup match day two for Seattle is a road game to face the Portland Timbers. It may be the least important match of the month though. Not only are the numbers in the Sounders favor, the Sunday match is followed closely by the must win down in the Bay Area. Portland just traded for Danny Mwanga, but he should be integrated by then. With the amount of changes going on down in Stumptown the favorable numbers don't mean much.
Normal Starters: 7

Returning to Open Cup play the Sounders travel to San Fransisco's Kezar Stadium to take on the San Jose Earthquakes. The win or go home match wouldn't be in Seattle's favor even without the lack of rest. The 'Quakes are good, clearly one of the tier one teams on the season. But it is still the Open Cup, a major goal of the organization every year and #SE4TTLE is an attempt at something special. One shouldn't be surprised by some of the team skipping the Portland trip and preparing down in the Bay.
Normal Starters: 11

Next up is a trip back to the East Coast. Typically the Sounders will fly out two days prior so they can get a practice session on the road. If they do that in this case it means at most a 24 hour stop in Seattle. Jay Heaps New England Revolution are no longer awful. Their 2.17 points per match at home is strong. Taking this match lightly would be a mistake, but may be necessary.
Normal Starters: 8

The "month" ends with a trip to Real Salt Lake for July 4th. The game at elevation is always tough, made more so by a strong RSL squad and now it's part of a mix that sees thousands and thousands of miles in airplanes and hotels. As the Sounders compete directly with Salt Lake for a first round bye in the MLS Cup Playoffs the result is vital, and yet unlikely.
Normal Starters: 9

Players that could be seen to start more games than they have to this point in 2012 are Sammy Ochoa, Andy Rose, Alex Caskey, Cordell Cato, Servando Carrasco and Roger Levesque. If you thought May tested the depth of the squad say hello to June, where the test little bit harder. Points may be rare, or they could match the May chunk's 17 points in 9 played.